Newsletter September 2014
I’m writing this, a week after our last operatic performance of the year, with a lovely warm post-season glow. Our summer double-bill was consistently well-received – by performers, audience and critics: although we always say each year ‘that was our best’ I think this one really was.
We discovered Bertoni’s Orfeo in a second-hand music stall about twelve years ago and immediately fell for its powerful music and incredibly moving vocal writing. We had been longing to do it ever since, but a combination of finding an edition and finding a suitable ‘pair’ for it – at about an hour long it’s a rather awkward length – proved elusive. The first was solved by an introduction to the wonderful Peter Jones, who has now made two editions for us and is working on a third, and the second through our recent discovery of Gluck’s Il Parnaso confuso. We gave the UK concert premiere of this delightful piece in 2011 and realized at the time that it was crying out for a staging. The Bertoni was to the same libretto as Gluck’s better-known version, Gluck had a Big Birthday coming up, they were both glorious showcases for the female voice - and an idea was born. We seem to have been about the only UK company doing something interesting for Gluck this year, which won us considerable critical praise.
It was also a showcase for Anna Starushkevych, who won our inaugural Young Singers’ Competition last year, and who took the role of Orfeo with commitment, gravitas and consistent acclaim. Keep an eye and an ear out for this superb talent and remember you heard her first at Bampton.
We should also take this opportunity to thank publically the experts who have helped us this year: Dr Claire Seymour and Professor Julian Rushton generously wrote full and informative programme notes and Dr Patricia Howard gave a pre-performance talk to a capacity appreciative audience at Westonbirt. Benjamin Bayl and Peter Jones helped provide performing editions of the two operas, thus making the season possible. We are extremely grateful to them all.
Summer opera might be over but our season continues to the end of the year. We have three exciting autumn events ahead of us, each of which is of interest and we hope you will support.
The main one is our début at SJE Arts, a new(ish) venue in Oxford that is most definitely going places. On Sunday 2 November we are giving a concert performance of Jephtha, a dramatic oratorio by an English contemporary of Handel, Maurice Greene. It tells the story of a warrior who is persuaded to help rescue his people from submission: in promise for safe return, he makes a rash vow to God that he will come to regret bitterly. It is a magnificent piece, passionate and deeply moving, with some exquisite music for both Jephtha (tenor John-Colyn Gyeantey) and his daughter (Rosalind Coad, a prizewinner in the Young Singers’ Competition). They are joined by counter-tenor Ben Williamson, baritone Nicholas Merryweather and the Bampton Classical Players on period instruments. Artistic director Gilly French conducts. It’s always a little unpredictable taking on a new venue and we would be thrilled if you were able to support us there. Tickets are only £18 and are available from Music at Oxford (01865 244806 or musicatoxford.com).
Before that, on 8 October, Anna Starushkevych and Nicholas Merryweather are giving Young Artists Recital as part of the music series at 22 Mansfield St, a fine Adam house in Marylebone. Tickets are £15 (or £25 to include drinks and canapés afterwards) and are available by invitation – please see our website for details.
And finally to St Beornwald, whose Day is, for this year only, being celebrated on Friday 19 December, at 7pm in Bampton Church with a lovely programme of baroque music for Christmas Eve, directed by Julian Perkins. Tickets are available from 1 December.
The Big Give 2014
Advance notice that we are participating again in this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge. Fundraising is always challenging but this is potentially a great way to get involved and – potentially – to see your money doubled. It takes place in early December and we will send out more information before then.
We have a growing group of Friends of Bampton Classical Opera - through membership you can not only support our work but also meet like-minded people at convivial events, including post-performance events and our annual Friends reception. There are several tiers of membership, each with associated benefits, and we are particularly grateful to our Corinthian Friends, but every single membership makes a difference. Please do consider joining us!
If you would like to support without becoming a friend, you can do this in a number of ways:
• Make a donation – see the ‘support us’ page of our website
• Company support – become a Corporate Friend
• Advertise your business in our programme
• Help in kind – accommodate a singer, help with cast catering or with event organisation
• Spread the word!